“Never Give An Order You Can’t Enforce” (updated Sept. 10, 2018)
That is the very first thing every officer is taught in military school. All laws, even the most mundane, end in the death penalty.
They have to.
If you get a parking ticket… …and you refuse to pay it… …and you resist the state’s attempt to collect… …you must either agree challenge their interpretation through their own courts (thus tacitly agreeing they have the authority to take your property) …or you flee their jurisdiction (and thus tacitly agreeing they have the authority to take your property) …or you must passively surrender (which again tacitly agrees they have the authority they claim) …or you physically resist… …and you either resist and win (thus destroying the state and its authority) …or you lose… …and they kill you…
The state cannot allow its authority to go unchallenged.
And absolutely this includes the most benign, citizen-participatory grass-roots democracies imaginable. The state cannot pass laws unless they can enforce the laws, and they cannot ignore those who refuse to acknowledge their authority.
This includes those within the government who are corrupt or attempt to circumvent the law for their own purposes. Those officials must be identified and brought in line with the true authority of the state, or else the state loses all credibility as a governing force.
Many states are reluctant to escalate confrontations too quickly and there is much wisdom in that: Better by far to let a minor traffic offender escape for the moment than to launch a dangerous high speed chase that might result in innocent people being hurt; the state can always track the offender down later and deal with them.
And many states will use or encourage banishment to avoid a head on confrontation with a problematic citizen. That serves both parties’ goals: The state has its authority recognized by someone fleeing their jurisdiction in order to avoid that authority, and the person banished can rightfully claim they have not submitted to what they feel is an unjust authority.
Every state, even the most totalitarian, governs through the consent of those governed, and that consent is the basis of their authority.
Laws against premeditated homicide were just as valid in Nazi Germany as they are in modern day Israel.
If authority cannot enforce its laws, then there are no laws, and if there are no laws, then there is no authority.
We the people have the right to set limits and decide how those limits are enforced in our various cultures and societies. Those cultures and societies (i.e., the state) have the authority we give them to enforce those limits.
If we don’t like it, we can either try to persuade others to support a change in those limits, or we can leave.
Or we can fight and hope to destroy the state and replace it with something we prefer.
Secular readers can stop here; religious readers can follow after the jump.
Anybody who says “God’s law” is talking nonsense.
Language shift has altered the meanings of words and phrases, both changing their meanings as time passes, but also misinterpreting the past by assigning meanings the original language never intended.
God never intended His covenant to be a law that would be enforced.
God referred to His offer from Mt. Sinai as a covenant, i.e., a contract, i.e., an agreement, not as a law that must be obeyed under penalty of death as all human laws must be obeyed under penalty of (ultimately) death.
God said, “If you want me to be your God, do these things. If you don’t want me to be your God, do what you want.”
That’s a highly moral and ethical offer: The conditions are known in advance and both parties have the right to accept or reject the agreement based on those conditions.
You don’t get that in human law.
You can’t say, “Well, I don’t recognize the state as having authority over me so I’ll just kill whom I feel like” and expect to live freely for very long in that authority’s jurisdiction (long, perhaps, but not freely).
If God said, “Thou shalt not kill” as a law, then He has abrogated His authority. A state that refuses to protect innocent citizens from a murderer has lost its authority in every sense of the word.
God, omniscient and omnipotent God, has surrendered His authority if “Thou shalt not kill” is a law that He refuses to enforce.
C’mon, it’s not that difficult, is it? The instant before some murderer strikes their fatal blow, God can lay them out with a massive stroke, rendering them impotent to commit their crime.
He’s like a police officer standing by idly while a killer loads their weapon and shoots an innocent victim, then as the killer flees the scene says they will be punished “someday.”
If God will not stop a murder before it happens, then His saying “Thou shalt not kill” from Mt. Sinai is not a law.
If God will not punish a murderer immediately after the fact to show He has the authority to back up His law, if instead He lets the wicked prosper and the innocent suffer, then His law is meaningless.
If God’s word regarding “Thou shalt not kill” isn’t a commandment or a law but rather a condition, the way a band can say to potential new members, “We play rock & roll only; if you want to play jazz or classical music please feel free to find another group” then God is morally and ethically constrained from acting against those who find nothing wrong with killing just as a rock band cannot stop others from playing jazz or classical music.
God can say, “You are not part of my fellowship so long as you do this” but that’s the extent of it.
Those in this world with secular authority -- the state, as it were -- can and do enforce laws against murder.
The state does not present anti-homicide laws as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition but as straight forward yin-if-you-sin-yang-you-will-hang actions and consequences.
And the state, by the consent of those governed, has that authority.
God, to harken back to our musical analogy, has chosen not to have that authority over human behavior. “If you want to rock, play with us,” is His message. He passes no judgment on those who don’t want to rock and opt to separate themselves from Him.
Anyone who claims they have authority from God to enforce legal, civil, and moral standards on others is (at best) sadly mistaken or (at worst) a cynical exploiter attempting to game the system for their own ends.
© Buzz Dixon